From Atlas Etnográfico de Vasconia
Jump to: navigation, search

Other languages:
Inglés • ‎Español • ‎Euskera • ‎Francés

Diseases that affect the eyes or the eyelids, such as squints, blindness or sties, were generally known. Remedies were also found for infections, excessive production of rheum, eye irritations and spills. Having to remove foreign bodies that got into the eye when working has also been quite commonplace.

Eye conditions, begiko minak

The people surveyed referred to remedies to cure eye conditions, often without referring to the diseases in question, mainly due to lack of knowledge and because they frequently have similar symptoms. For example, in the case of eye redness, the aim is for it to return to being white, regardless of the underlying ailment and obviously it is not going to be cured. Folk medicine is said to cure symptoms and not diseases. That statement has been widely proven in this chapter.

As will be seen, the two most common remedies both for the aliments considered here and those in other sections, have been to dampen the eyes with a cloth, gauze or cotton-wool soaked in rose or camomile water.

Eye colds, begiko katarroa

In Bernedo (A), eye colds were cured using boiled camomile water (Matricaria chamomilla) or by applying to the eyes bread with wine heated over the fire.

Pink eye, malko-jarioa

Pink eye is a fistula that starts under the tear duct though which pus, mucus or tears flow. In Bidegoian and Elosua (G), it is known as malko-jarioa.

Eye inflammation, begietako puztasuna

In Orozko (B), boiled water with camomile was used to relieve eye problems in general, such as tired sight, red eyes, tearing and pistas. In Mendiola (A), the oil from home frying of camomile was used in those cases.

Bleary eyed, makarrak, piztak

In Carranza (B), this problem was put down to the children being poorly fed, "badly raised". The intense production of rheum was also attributed to having a cold. Other children believe that someone being bleary-eyed showed that they were jealous. That belief was also seen in Bedarona (B).

Irritated eyes, begi gorriak and ocular spills

In Amézaga de Zuya (A), when eyes are irritated, in other words, they appear red and teary, the ideal treatment is to wash they with boiled water with camomile or with St. John’s flowers. Parsley also works. There are people who say that it is sufficient to carry those herbs in one's pocket.



In Mendiola (A), the cause was put down to the cold or just to eye weakness. In Pipaón (A), the cause was also weak eyes.

There are other folk beliefs in addition to this type of interpretations.

In Amorebieta-Etxano and Bedarona (B), it was said that the affliction was due to having seen someone’s bottom.


Empirical and folk remedies have been used to cure sties. The folk ones have been commonplace. It can also be seen that the different remedies contradict one another as sometimes applying cold and sometimes heat is recommended.

Other remedies in addition to camomile water have also been noted. In Valdegovía (A), they say rose water should be used, n infusion of red rose leaves in Lekunberri (N), and an infusion of blackberry leaves in Donoztiri (BN).

Extracting foreign bodies

There have been different procedures to extract foreign bodies from the eye. The application of one or other depends on whether the person is alone or with someone who can help. It also depends on the type of item in the eye.

Stone or metal objects

The worst case scenario when a small stone or metal object gets into the eye.

In Agurain (A), the tip of a stylus or marker is sharpened using a emery stone to extract metal particles, as the tip becomes a magnet and attracts the particle. Eyewash is then applied to cure any possible injury.

Rubbing and lifting the eyelids

Small pieces of dirt or flies are usually what get into the eyes and they are not such as serious problem.

In Mendiola (A), it is said that the first thing you do instinctively when you feel the presence of a foreign body is to rub your eyelids with your fingers.

Keeping the eye closed

Some people recommend sleeping for a while (Carranza-B; Allo, Izurdiaga, Lezaun-N) or at least keeping your eyes closed for the object to make its way out (Carranza). In Sangüesa (N), there are people who think it will come out by itself while you are asleep at night. In Bedarona (B), if the item could not be removed, it would be left there and the following morning, it had usually disappeared.

Use of auxiliary objects

Another person often intervenes and tries to help using a handkerchief or cigarette paper to extract the foreign body of the eye. In case that the person tries alone to use any of the procedures, they will need the help of a mirror.

Folk beliefs

In Murchante (N), they closed the eye in question and used their finger to gently make circles on it while spitting on the floor three times. The foreign body would then disappear. This remedy still continues to be used there.

Squints. Crossed-eyes


In Agurain (A) and Améscoa (N), it was believed that it occurred in children when they were always laid down to sleep on the same side when they were small.

Correcting squints

In Berganzo, Bernedo and Ribera Alta (A), they believed that there was no cure. In the second of those places, not much importance was given to them, even though that they recognised that a squint made a person ugly and greatly detracted from them.

Blindness. Itsua

In Basque, the blind person is called itsua (Bermeo, Nabarniz-B; Beasain, Bidegoian-G; Arraioz, Goizueta, Lekunberri-N; Donoztiri, Heleta-BN).

Accidents are one of the causes of blindness (Apodaca-A; Carranza, Durango-B; Allo, Aoiz, Lezaun-N). In Moreda (A), Bermeo (B) and San Martín de Unx (N), they also believe that it can be caused by a blow.

Another important cause is illness (Apodaca-A, Carranza-B, Beasain-G, Lezaun-N). Having cataracts is believed can lead to blindness (Amézaga de Zuya-A, Muskiz-B).